For months now, Donald J. Trump’s lawyers have argued in lawsuit after lawsuit that not only should a current president not be subject to legal consequences of wrongdoing, but should be immune even to investigation. The very act of doubting a president’s actions should be prohibited, according to those lawyers.
It wasn’t just those lawyers, though. It was every lawyer who ever wrote in support of “the divine right of kings”. Monarchs refused to consider scrutiny of their actions to be anything *other* than treason. Trump has routinely called criticism of his actions to be traitorous or treasonous, which only makes sense if he already considers himself to be operating as a monarch.
While the final dotting of ‘I’s and crossing of ‘T’ is still in the future, it seems that historians will note January 31st, 2020, as the day when a de facto monarchy came back to American politics. On that day, the Senate declined to compel witness testimony or demand documents that the White House had denied to the House presidential impeachment investigation, following arguments from Trump’s legal team repeating various components of ‘divine right of kings’ doctrine to excuse Trump’s actions. The Senate thus establishes a precedent that future presidents can willfully deny any legislative investigation any cooperation whatsoever without consequence. And that removes any effective oversight function of the presidency from Congress.
What will Trump do with his new-found power to ignore Congress? Pretty much any sort of petty vindictiveness he has in any measure refrained from so far, plus any suggestions his inner circle of advisors suggest. Recall that while Trump’s cabinet and staff is a patchwork of officials with a turnover rate to rival a season of “The Apprentice”, one long-term survivor is Stephen Miller, and I’m sure he will be happy to give some notions to our newly minted monarch.
The previous ‘humorous’ references Trump made concerning serving longer than two terms? That seems a prime thing to advance to the fore. Given the defense team’s reference to actions being justified if the president considers even elections he is a candidate in as being subject to interference should he cast it as being in the national interest that he be re-elected, it surely is no large leap to speculate that an adverse election outcome could be declared void by fiat as *not* being in the national interest. Or, more directly concerning, to ignore notions that any presidential term limit is binding.
The republic is dead. Long live the king.